Focusing on avoidance of carbohydrate, the Atkins Diet is surely the best known of all the fad diets. At the height of it’s fame some 3 million Britons were estimated to have attempted to shed unwanted pounds with it. Although the thought of eating lots of bacon, eggs, cheese, cream and beef might sound appealing, there are some serious issues with the Atkins Diet.
To start with, burning fat results in the production of substances called ketones as your body enters a state called ketosis. This is a result of excess protein in the body and how your body tries to deal with it. This can result in bad breath, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, insomnia and nausea. Constipation may also occur as a consequence of avoiding typically high-fibre foods such as fruit, vegetables, beans, wholewheat pasta, brown rice, wholegrain breakfast cereals and jacket potatoes.
When it comes to long-term side effects, many health professionals are concerned that the Atkins diet may have serious dangers. While the high intake of fat, particularly saturates, may increase the risk of heart disease, there are also concerns that the unbalanced nature of the Atkins diet may lead to nutritional deficiencies, which cause health problems in later life. For example, poor intake of bone-building calcium (found in dairy products) may increase the risk of osteoporosis, while poor intake of antioxidant nutrients (found in fruit and vegetables) have been linked with a host of health problems ranging from heart disease and cancer to premature ageing and cataracts.
Most importantly, the fate of excess protein in the body is the most serious concern. As the body can only digest and use about 20 grammes of protein in one go (or every 2 hours or so) the excess protein has to be dealt with. This excess is turned into amino acid; the acid remnants are used as fuel and supresses fat burning. The aminos are sent off to the kidneys to be processed as waste, but the high level of aminos puts a strain on these vital organs and can ultimately cause kidney damage.
At Diets Don’t Work we believe in moderation in all things. Enough protein is important, but we have evolved to thrive on a variety of foods, and especially need good natural complex carbohydrate to perform well in physical training and exercise. Any good personal trainer should encourage you to eat a healthy and varied diet with small meals often and a good balance. Plus, this is much more sustainable and enjoyable in the real world.
Because so many foods are off limits, the diet can get very boring with the result that many people give up after a short while. It’s also almost impossible to follow the Atkin’s plan if you’re a vegetarian as nuts, seeds, beans and many vegetables are banned in the early stages. Most experts also believe the Atkins plan fails to teach people about the basic principles of a balanced, healthy diet, which science irrefutably proves can help keep us healthy and free from disease.
Although newer versions of the Atkins Diet do allow vegetables and fruit it should still be treated with caution.